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Pox, Pundits, and American Indian Genocide

by David Yeagley · March 8, 2009 · 12 Comments ·

The United States government never issued orders to exterminate any American Indian nation, by any means of warfare. It is true, however, that individual military generals and field officers–in the heat of battle or the immediate emotional reactions thereupon–did make statements about total genocide of the Indians, and that early on. In certain cases, at certain times, particularly in the latter days on the wild plains, actions of the US military certainly seem to indicate at least a local, incidental intent of extermination.

Not so long ago, Communist-trained Leftist Indian activists counted it a great revelation to announce the world that the U. S. government attempted to use germ warfare to exterminate (or at least greatly reduce) the population of natives in the land. The disease of small pox had historically already demonstrated its natural effectiveness to minimize if not eliminate native populations of the “new world.” Unfortunately for whites, it eliminated many of them as well.

But part of the problem here are the estimates of American Indian populations before the European invasions. The European takeover was not sudden, nor unified. This cultural “clash” evolved over several hundred years. Russell Thorton suggests that the American Indian population of the United States was somewhat over 5 million when Columbus arrived on the South American islands. See, American Indian Holocaust and Survival, University of Oklahoma Press, 1986. (This is based on Henry Dobyn’s method.) The idea of the numerical significance of Indian deaths from small pox (or anything else) is based directly on the extimation of the existing numbers before the deaths. There is no way around this fact. If the numbers are essentially unclear (which they are), the understanding of death is inevitably affected. Cause, intent, and even actuality are shaped by the numbers.

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Ann Coulter

In her interview for BadEagle.com, Ann Coulter uses the argument that it would be impossible for the U.S. government to try to use small pox infected blankets as germ warfare against Indians, since no knowledge of such contagion was available until after Louis Pasteur’s famous experiements in the latter 19th century. Michael Medved, recently noted by BadEagle.com for quoting a BadEagle article, also discounts the use of small pox as intentional germ warfare against Indians. He and many others see it as simply a case of European diseases to which the American Indian had no immunity or genetic resistance. Part of the great cultural car wreck.

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Michael Medved

However, there are a couple of matters here that need to be brought into the discussion. Firstly, Louis Pasteur was not the scientist who made any special revelation about small pox. That was Edward Jenner, in 1796. Jenner developed the practice of vaccination. This would then entail an understanding at least of immunity, if not some element of contagion. The precise relation of immunity to contagion is the question. Pasteur’s contribution had to do with immunity, not the precise understanding of contagion. That small pox was caused by a germ was already understood. Pasteur offered advancement in the matter of vaccines. (And there’s even an issue of whether the work of Paul Ehrlich was not the precursor of Pasteur’s in the matter of chemical antidotes for toxins in the body.)

Secondly, contagion was anciently understood as something that involved physical contact. There was knowledge that some diseases were in fact caused by touch. Leprosy was one of these. The ancient Hebrews had laws dealing with the leper. He was to be isolated, and nothing of his was to be touched. The language of the ancient scriptures (ca. 1300 BC) may sound ritualistic if not superstitious to our ears, but it clearly entailed the concept that the disease was transmitted through touch. See, Leviticus 13: 42-46. This involved even the clothing of diseased individual. Leper colonies developed, where diseased individuls lived together, legally separated from society, for fear of their contagion. We can’t say this is explicitly scientific language, but it is the intuitive behavioral prescription against contagion. (We should say, the inspired instruction.)

The ancient Hittites used infected people to spread disease among the enemy. And also the Hindu. Poisonous dancing girls were sent to assassinate Alexander in the late 4th century, according to Adrienne Mayor’s collection of sordid tales of terror. See, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Bilogical and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World (Overlook, 2003). Apparently Sumerian cuneiform tablets of 1770 BC show some understanding of contagion.

But when it comes to spreading small pox by “infected” blankets, science doesn’t support the idea. The specific small pox virus (Poxviridae-viriola) must enter the body fluids to cause infection, usually through the nose or mouth, thus transmission from cotton or wool bedding is highly unlikely and such a scheme of contagion would be very inefficient, of not essentially ineffective. The body fluids of the infected person would have to be freshly present on the material, in liquid form. The bacteria is generally transmitted by person to person, as in mother to infant, husband to wife, etc.

And despite a few comments in individual letters about the idea of spreading a pox on Indians through traded items like blankets, we really don’t have any concrete evidence that such a program was ever carried out, even on a local scale. And yet, the myth is so vibrant that it made its way into a scene in the movie Broken Trail (2006).

Both Coulter and Medved are quite right about the virtual unlikelihood of any such intentional germ warfare against Indians, but, I think their arguments might use a ‘booster’ shot.

Posted by David Yeagley · March 8, 2009 · 8:07 pm CT · ·

Tags: American Indians · Bad Eagle Journal · Health




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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David Yeagley // Mar 8, 2009 at 9:53 pm   

    The logistics of the blanket theory are prohibitive. This would require detailed knowledge of bacteria life: specific identity of the transmission (scab, pustule, blood, body fluids; incubation period, ‘shelf life’ of the bacteria living apart from host; none of this was known until indeed after the pox had done it’s work. According to some sources, the transmission of the bacteria is actually airborn, entering through the nostrils.

    The infectious stage is rather short. The “infected” blankets would have to have been dissemated awfully far awfully quick. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Plus, the disseminators (the evil white genocidists) would have to have immune individuals doing the initial dissemination.

    No record of any such elaborate plans is known, at least not by BadEagle.com, as yet.

  • 2 Matilda Darquerider // Mar 9, 2009 at 8:51 am   

    Mr. Yeagley,
    I would have to argue differently. Smallpox is viral, not bacteriological, and there are two subtypes; variola major (the big killer) and variola minor (a milder form). Transmission is possible by airborne viral particles and by contact. Unlike bacteria, viruses occupy a special niche where they don’t fully qualify as a life form yet they aren’t something totally inanimate either.

    Even though it took thousands of years before Man actually saw the smallpox viral particle, Man understood, in part, the disease’s nature. They understood that it was highly contagious especially in urban populations, and that confinement and fire worked as containment measures. Jenner, himself, made the observation that individuals who had been infected with cow pox appeared to have acquired an immunity to smallpox, and began experimenting with the idea of deliberately infecting people with a milder form of pox in order to protect them from a more lethal variation.

    The logistics of the blanket theory are not prohibitive. Smallpox particles can survive for years, and the concept of biological warfare isn’t a modern one. The Greeks certainly understood it, and germ warfare was also used during medieval sieges. Infected blankets would have been viable for many years, and they probably did use individuals that had acquired an immunity through previous infection of smallpox (or cow pox). Smallpox didn’t always kill every individual it touched. Some people survived the illness, but were scarred for life from the disease. Some were rendered blind as well.

    One good source to get a layman’s understanding of smallpox is Richard Preston’s “The Demon in the Freezer”.

  • 3 David Yeagley // Mar 9, 2009 at 9:00 am   

    Forgive me for using the word “bacteria.” It was an error. And earlier in the same paragraph, I said, The specific small pox virus (Poxviridae-viriola) must enter the body fluids to cause infection, usually through the nose or mouth. Please read carefully. This may eliminate your need of repeating the content of the article.

    A virus and a bacteria are indeed not the same thing, and not to be used interchangably. However, there is such a thing as a bacteriophage, a bacterial virus. A virus is understood as a parasite. Small pox (variola) is definitely viral.

    The point of contention, therefore, is this: how is it that a parasite can survive without a host? This would be required were the infested blanket theory to be considered valid. Remember the logistic: infected person, “infected” blanket, new person infected by blanket. Imagine a campaign to do this on a massive, social scale. Makes no sense whatsoever to me. There could hardly be survivors of any race.

    Now, Adrienne Mayor informs us that archeologists have been known to become infected with the pox–by opening graves of former suffers. This is a serious point, of course, about the endurance (shelf live) of the virus–which I find more or less incredible. The stuff of X-File stories. However, I would use this as evidence that no blanket campaign was conducted–for there would in fact be no human race left on the North American continent.

    These are difficult thoughts. It is too easy to obscure and blur logistics when reconstructing historical theory.

  • 4 J.Kills_Straight // Mar 9, 2009 at 12:15 pm   

    Dr. Yeagley:

    Forgive me for going off-topic for a second. You never replied to my last post about that alleged photo of Crazy Horse.

    Could you please re-read my post and give a brief reply.

    Many thanks,

    J. Kills Straight
    Santee, Sioux

  • 5 David Yeagley // Mar 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm   

    JKS, sorry I missed it. I’ve responded now. Probably nothing you don’t already know, though.

  • 6 BobC // Mar 9, 2009 at 1:37 pm   

    Dr. Yeagley,

    Once again, your display of scholarship dwarfs that of the fake Indian (and intellectual dwarf) Ward Churchill, who is currently suing the University of Colorado for his “job” back — today being the first day of the trial.

    The CU attournies could probably use you as an expert witness, if you were willing — and it would be a major gain to the University if you applied for and got Ward’s teaching job.

  • 7 Matilda Darquerider // Mar 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm   

    Mr. Yeagley,
    Apologies on my error.
    How long is the virus viable outside the host I don’t know. In some countries before the eradication program, smallpox was considered a seasonal affliction, so that suggests at least several months where it lies dormant until the next outbreak. Not being a living organism like a bacteria, it doesn’t require food nor air for respiration so it’s possible that it could remain viable for years as long as its DNA isn’t damaged by external factors. No one knows what the original host was for smallpox. The virus is a very, very old one, and some scientists believe that its host may have become extinct thousands of years ago.

    The incubation period for smallpox is 11 to 14 days, so the radius of the area of infection would be roughly 14 days of travel time which would mean only a few hundred miles before the industrial age.

    I would have to still differ on the point of the deliberate infection of Indians. As heinous as it seems it is credible. Biological weapons are extremely attractive not only because of their cheapness, but also because they only destroy the target, that is people, and leave valuable resources behind.

  • 8 J.Kills_Straight // Mar 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm   

    March 9, 2009
    Meghan McCain calls Ann Coulter ‘offensive’ and ‘insulting’
    Posted: 05:15 PM ET

    Meghan McCain takes aim at Ann Coulter in a new blog post.
    (CNN) – Fresh off public complaints about her own love life, Meghan McCain has a new target for her most recent gripes: conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

    In a new blog post for the Daily Beast as Ann Coulter and HBO host Bill Maher are kicking off a week-long debate tour today in New York, McCain calls President Obama “the hippest politician around” and says being a Republican is “about as edgy as Donny Osmond.”

    And she blasts Coulter for helping to “perpetuate negative stereotypes” about Republican women. “I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity,” says McCain. “I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time.”

    She concedes that Coulter seems to be followed by a “cult that cannot be denied,” and was a popular headliner at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, but adds that “when your competition is a teenager who has a dream about the Republican Party and Stephen Baldwin, it’s not really saying that much.”

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

    J.Kills Straight
    Santee, Sioux.

  • 9 David Yeagley // Mar 9, 2009 at 5:30 pm   

    Annie-get-your-gun-Coulter, I’ve always called her. Well, what can I say. She wasn’t afraid to take the simple BadEagle interview, like most major conservative pundits I’ve asked. (I hardly ask anymore).

    Ann has no fear. Why? She created her own niche. She works for no one, and answers to no one. Very brave, strong, white woman!

    McCain is weird, in the last analysis. I should say, politically a bit eccentric.

  • 10 David Yeagley // Mar 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm   

    Matilda, you want to know the truth, I’m in a bit over my head. Virology, bacteriology, I don’t know what the truth is.

    I know all about the history of the pox. This is not an issue. The issue is its durability.

    I’m going to write another piece on it, for sure. I did address the distinction between immunity and contagion. They are related. The infectious stage is rather short, that is, when a person who has small pox can infect another perion. But that’s an entirely different issue from how long the virus can live outside a host.

    It’s like, I can’t comment on one thing without involving the other.

    Is there a doctor in the house?! A chemist? A pathologist?

  • 11 Matilda Darquerider // Mar 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm   

    Mr. Yeagley,
    D.A. Henderson may be a good source of information. I think he was one of the guys who worked on the small pox eradication project.

  • 12 David Yeagley // Mar 9, 2009 at 7:52 pm   

    We’re gonna tackle this!

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